The state’s transportation department said it plans to shut down a dozen Motor Vehicle Division offices, temporarily close rest areas and defer hundreds of millions of dollars in construction as it faces a “perfect storm” of budget woes.
The department also plans to reduce its staff by 10 percent and defer some maintenance activities.
These measures will start this month as the agency grapples with a $100-million shortfall.
“Because the state is using transportation funds to pay for other needs and people are buying less fuel and fewer vehicles, we are simply running out of money,” ADOT Director John Halikowski stated in a media release.
More than half-a-billion dollars been diverted from transportation during the past year to address the state’s budget woes, Halikowski stated.
Beginning later this month, 13 rest areas will be closed. They are Bouse Wash, Canoa Ranch, Ehrenberg, Hassayampa, Haviland, Mazatzal, McGuireville, Meteor Crater, Mohawk, Parks, Salt River Canyon, San Simon, and Sacaton.
The department said the Mazatzal and Salt River Canyon already were closed because of water-system issues.
The department said it will be working with roadside businesses for a program allowing motorists to use their restrooms free of charge.
In addition to shutting down as many as a dozen Motor Vehicle Division offices, the remaining offices will no longer be open on Saturday beginning in November.
The department said the focus of highway maintenance will be on safety, such as emergency response, snow and ice removal and emergency repairs. But the department will have to reduce and maybe even completely forgo activities such as landscaping and removal of graffiti.
Additionally, maintenance at the state-run Grand Canyon Airport will be limited to airfield safety.
“These needs are not going away, but we recognize the responsibility to address short-term financial issues while prioritizing what must be done,” Halikowski stated. “Drivers will notice a difference, unfortunately.”
ADOT has received $350 million in federal stimulus funding for so-called “shovel-ready” projects, but state funding for other projects will be cut by $370 million over the next four year.